Pool Workout For {Injured} Runners

So many of my running friends are experiencing overuse injuries right now. Boo! What the heck? While I don’t want to speculate as to why this is happening, I DO want to help. So, you’re injured. You can’t run. You can’t speed walk. You can’t cycle (maybe). And you are GOING CRAZY BECAUSE YOU CAN’T RUN.

Relax.

With most injuries, swimming is still an option. Well, an option so long as you have a pool to swim in. That is sort of hard to come by in NYC unless you shell out a million dollars for Asphalt Green or don’t mind a 25 meter pool everywhere else. So, assuming you have a pool, here is your workout. I don’t really specify your stroke because I do freestyle exclusively, but far be it from me to deny you the butterfly if you can bring it. The whole point is exertion, not stroke. Bring your swim cap and goggles.

Not appropriate swim workout wear. Also, I need a beach vacation, like, yesterday.

  • 10 min warm up, easy
  • 100 meter 80% max speed x 4 (full recovery in between)
  • 10 min easy swim
  • 10 lengths (in a 25 meter pool, 4-6 in a 50 meter pool) of one length all out fast, one length slow recovery–NO STOPPING IN BETWEEN
  • 10 min easy swim

Swimming is a great way to get a true cardiovascular workout in while giving your legs a little bit of a rest from the pounding. I swam a lot when my gluteus medius was learning how to pull its own weight. These workouts made it sooooo much easier for me to get back into running because I lost no cardiovascular fitness in the process. Plus, swimming is crazy hard and a killer workout.

A good rule of thumb is to swim for as long as you would have run and at the same intensity with the same intervals. That way, you’re rocking out for the same duration and reaping all the cardiovascular benefits you can.

We know why I don’t do it often. My hair. I dye my hair and cannot, in good financial conscience, subject my freshly dyed locks to chlorine. Hair Goddess would never speak to me again.

Pretty hair > swim workout (unless I am injured). Priorities.

If you’re injured, chin up! You’re not out of the game entirely! Jump into the pool and kick your own butt froggy-style.

Now go out and run (or swim).

Q & A: Make-Ups & Take Downs

Happy Pi Day, all you Mathletes out there! I like to call it “Pi(e) Day” and treat myself to a slice. I mean, who doesn’t love pie? I’m partial to fruit pies, cherry being my favorite. Though, nothing says home to me like apple pie.

Back on the topic of running, since this is a running blog and not a pie blog…though, I’m sure there’s a delicious pie blog out there and if someone knows of it, please send it my way, here are some recent questions I’ve fielded from newbie runners.

Q. If I miss a run, can I make up for it by tacking on mileage tomorrow?

A. Hmmm…tricky question. This depends entirely on:

  1. How seasoned of a runner you are.
  2. How healthy you are.
  3. What you are training for.
  4. How much mileage you missed.
  5. What type of workout it was.
  6. Where you are in your training.

The list of factors is endless. In general, my suggestions are thus (with respect to the above factors):

1.  Beginner: Maybe add 20% to the next run, other than that skip it and move on. Intermediate: If you feel up to it, add 50-60% of the missed run to your next workout. Advanced: Lazy bones-why did you miss it in the first place? Add a little              onto every workout for the rest of the week to make up the mileage and hit your weekly total.
2.  You’re injured: leave it alone and run when you’re better. You were sick: come back slowly and don’t worry about the missed mileage. Healthy: see above.
3.  Nothing special: add a little more to each workout. 15K or less: add 50% to the next two workouts (whatever they are). 1/2 marathon & marathon: take the next long run day and either do half the mileage in the morning and half in the evening of the same day OR do two long runs (70% of your longest long run) on back-to-back days.
4 & 5.  If you missed a recovery day, shakeout run, or other “easy” workout, forget about it. Move on. If it was a long run, see above. If it was a speed day, tack on a fast 5K or 10K to the next long run you have to work that anaerobic threshold.      6.  If it’s early on or you’re tapering, don’t sweat it. If you’re in a high-mileage week, do what you can with the above answers, give the circumstances.

Q. I’m injured but I still want to run my race in a few weeks. What can I do?

A. Don’t run. Seriously. It’s not worth ruining your body for one race. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of races in your future if you are smart and take yourself down now. If you put yourself through the ringer and run a long-distance race injured, you run the risk of sidelining your running career for good. Is it worth it? For one race? Didn’t think so.

If you’re determined to participate because you’ve shelled out serious dough to register and get there (I feel your pain), then consider taking yourself down to the half-marathon instead of the full or the 10K instead of the half. Something might be better than nothing and if you make this decision early enough on in your training, you’ll be able to adjust your schedule and maybe even take some much-needed rest days.

Always seek the help of a physical therapist when treating injuries. They have neat little tricks and tools to help you feel better faster. Trust me. I’ve been there. Your future health is so much more important than one race.

Now go out and run!

The Great Illiotibial Band Mystery

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had Illiotibial Band Syndrome.

*Hand up*

That mysterious pain on the outside of your knee or hip that hurts more the more you run? That’s the one. If you’ve been a runner for more than a month, you’ve probably come across some IT Band problems. It’s such a common issue for runners that it gets its own post!

Hello, little band. You are a big pain in the butt.

There are a couple of things to understand about the IT Band:

  1. It’s fascia, not a muscle.
  2. Its origin (upper attachment) is on the muscle belly of the Tensor Fascia Lata (which attaches to the hip) and the iliac crest and girdle (hip).
  3. Its insertion (lower attachment) is to the femur (thigh), the patella (knee) and the tibia (shin).
  4. In a cadaver, the fascia is about as thick as tissue paper but wicked-strong.

Because the attachment sights are at the hip and the knee/shin area, the wider your hips are, (or more knocked-kneed you are) the more prone to IT Band problems you will be. This is why women experience more cases of IT Band syndrome than men. Yet another awesome anatomic anomaly in favor of the fairer sex. Yay.

Essentially, it is the job of this fascia to stabilize both the knee and hip. It is tense in both extension and flexion of the knee (when you bend and straighten it = all the time) and it is also involved in hip abduction (moving your leg out to the side). What does this mean for runners? Well, it’s always working. In every direction. For the whole run.

Ergo, without proper training it gets pooped out easily.

Why IT Band Syndrome happens:

  1. Your hips/glutes are weak.
  2. You add too much mileage or speed too soon.
  3. Your shoes suck.
  4. Your gait is wonky.

These problems are easily fixed by the following methods:

  1. Hip/Glute strengthening exercises.
  2. Stretching (live in half-pigeon for a while).
  3. Only add 10-15% more mileage every week (and cut back if you have pain).
  4. Foam roll your hips and glutes.

See? The IT Band isn’t so scary now that you know what to do with it! You should really be doing all of this anyway to prevent IT Band (and other) injuries so get on it! If your pain persists after implementing these tips, lay off the running and see and orthopedist to make sure it’s not something more serious.

Happy trails!

Now go out and run.

Q & A: Runner Problems

There are problems and there are runner problems. This blog is a safe place to talk about both. Up today: Runner Problems from two awesome readers.

Q. I’m rehabbing a stress fracture in my tibia and getting ready to get back into running. Any tips?

Injured? Been there. Rehabbed that. Sprained ankles were my thing during cross country. And basketball. Also rehabbed from bad fashion and glasses that make my face look rounder than it already is.

A. First off, make sure you have the OK from your physical therapist to start running again. Second, ask them about how many days a week you’re allowed to run (at first). The will likely tell you start with just a little bit and build up from there. Lots of help, right? When I came back from my glute strain–yes, there is such a thing–I ran one mile 3 times a week as long as I didn’t have any pain at all. I swam and did the recumbent bike to supplement my cardio workouts in the mean time. So long as I was pain-free, I added a mile onto my runs every other week until I felt confident that I could take up my regular mileage again (~25 miles/week). This was after about a month.

Every body is different and so every body heals at a different rate. I would say to start small and build slowly. Make sure strength training is a big part of your life before you add on any serious mileage (like, 4 miles or more) and to do your physical therapy exercises religiously. If you feel pain of any kind, stop immediately and get back into your doctor’s office. Pain (not soreness, but PAIN) is not to be ignored when you’re coming back from an injury.

Q. My group fitness instructor had us jump in the pool with our shoes on the other night (don’t ask). My sneakers are soaked! Is it ok to pop them in the dryer?

Sopping. Wet. Sneakers. Yuck.

A. Ummmm…jumping in a pool with your shoes on? Were you given prior notice of this??? Anyway, if you can avoid the dryer, you should. The high heat can damage the very expensive cushioning you paid to have in your very expensive running shoes. A better way, if you have the time, is to remove the inserts and then stuff the shoes with newspaper. This way, the inserts can dry off and the newspaper will absorb the remaining moisture in the shoes. If you’re desperate, go ahead and use the dryer. Just don’t make a habit of it. Those shoes are pricey!

Got a question about running, running gear, life in general? Email me at runstrongereveryday@gmail.com –Don’t be shy!

Now go out and run!

I ♥ Yoga, But…

Thank you for all of your kind comments and feedback on yesterday’s BTAT guest blog by Obi-wan.

“I know you come from good stock and you prove it every day when you choose to live and not just exist!”

“This was awesome.”

“Too good not to pass along.”

“This was a wonderful post from your dad–great advice that I will heed should the injury monkey climb on my back one of these days!”

“So sweet that your Dad did this for you! Love it and the message it conveys!”

“Thanks, Obi-wan, for your wise words”

“Fantastic post, Obi-wan!!!”

He’s pretty awesome and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed reading little bit about his inspiring story. Maybe, if we ask nicely, he’ll come back? And maybe, if we say pretty please, Mrs. Obi-wan will share her story with us, too? You never know…onto today’s post!

Yogis, don’t hate me. I’m on your side and I’m here to help!

So, I love yoga. I feel good when I go to class. I like trying new teachers. I think everyone can benefit from some type of yoga.

I love yoga. Outdoors yoga is the BEST!

That said, if done incorrectly, yoga can really hurt you.

As a student of anatomy and physiology, I spend my time studying how the body moves, what movements cause injury, and how to help people recover and prevent these injuries. My job as a personal trainer requires that I coaching people through a series of exercises safely and effectively. And I’m kind of a stickler for form.

This is where I get into trouble in yoga class.

Some classes are absolutely amazing. The teachers are clear about the placement of every single part of your body and when to breathe and where to put your focus. They walk around, adjusting everyone constantly and encouraging people to work within their limits, not above them.

These are the classes I love.

Ooooo-mmmmm

I attended the opposite type of class on Monday. I hated every single moment of that class and almost walked out just to make a point. Why the negativity? Because it was just offensively bad.

In a class of about 50 or so people, I would say that at least 30 of them looked as though they had never been to a yoga class before. Not because of their bodies or anything superficial like that, but because of the confused looks on their faces, the constant turning around to see what others were doing, and the terrifyingly bad form they exhibited in the “simplest” of yoga poses.

It was unsafe, distracting, and inexcusable.

I felt bad for the students because it was the instructors’ fault they had bad form. He did not touch or adjust a single person. I was shocked.

William J. Broad wrote an article that was published in the New York Times last week (you saw it in Friday’s Fitness News) that people in the fitness world are fighting about all over the blogs and in yoga studios everywhere. It’s titled, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” In it, Broad interviews Glenn Black, a popular yoga instructor who is incredibly verbal about the physical dangers of yoga.

I must say that I completely agree with every single one of the dangers highlighted in the article and there are many, many more. I train yoga instructors and devotees and I help them to re-learn how to move through their asanas in a safe way. Several people I know have seriously injured themselves in class and spent years in physical therapy.

Form is everything. Yoga, like every other sport/fitness activity in the world, can cause you injury when done incorrectly. Yoga is good, when done safely and I encourage you to consider learning more about it, BUT if you are new to yoga do yourself a favor and do a few private lessons or very, very small beginner group classes before jumping into it, ok? Don’t push. Be safe.

Rule of thumb: If it hurts, don’t do it. Seriously. Listen to your body.

Now go out and run!